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Flag of Afghanistan
Emblem of Afghanistan
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به افغانستان خوش آمدید
افغانستان ته ښه راغلاست

Afghanistan /æfˈgænɪstæn/, officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (Pashto: د افغانستان اسلامي جمهوریت, Dari: جمهوری اسلامی افغانستان), is a landlocked country that is part of Central Asia and South Asia. It is bordered by Pakistan in the south and east, Iran in the west, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in the north, and China in the far northeast. The name Afghanistan means the "Land of Afghans."

Afghanistan is a culturally mixed nation, a crossroads that connects Central Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and West Asia, it has been an ancient focal point of trade and migration. It has an important geostrategical location. Archaeologists have found evidence of human habitation from as far back as the Middle Paleolithic. Urban civilization may have begun in the area as early as 3,000 to 2,000 BC. During its history, the land has seen various invaders and conquerors, while on the other hand, local entities invaded the surrounding vast regions to form their own empires. Ahmad Shah Durrani created the Durrani Empire in 1747, with its capital at Kandahar. In the late 19th century, Afghanistan became a buffer state in "The Great Game" played between the British Indian Empire and Russian Empire. On August 19, 1919, following the third Anglo-Afghan war, the country regained full control over its international relations from the United Kingdom. During the Cold War, after the withdrawal of the British from neighboring India in 1947, the United States and the Soviet Union began spreading influences in Afghanistan, which led in 1979 to a bloody war between the US-backed mujahideen forces and the Soviet-backed Afghan government in which over a million Afghans lost their lives.

Since the late 1970s Afghanistan has suffered from continuous and brutal civil war, which included foreign interventions in the form of the 1979 Soviet invasion and the recent 2001 US-led invasion that toppled the Taliban government. In late 2001 the United Nations Security Council authorized the creation of an International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). This force is composed of NATO troops that are involved in assisting the government of President Hamid Karzai in establishing the writ of law as well as rebuilding and building key infrastructures in the nation. Three decades of war made Afghanistan one of the world's most dangerous countries. While the international community is rebuilding war-torn Afghanistan, terrorist groups such as the Haqqani Network and Hezbi Islami are actively involved in a nationwide Taliban-led insurgency, which includes hundreds of assassinations and suicide attacks. According to the United Nations, the insurgents were responsible for 80% of civilian casualties in 2011 and 2012.

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The Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA) (Persian: جمهوری افغانستان‎) was a self-declared socialist state (but often referred to in the West as a "communist state") in the Middle East established by the Afghan communist party, People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) by then leader Nur Muhammad Taraki in 1978 in the Saur Revolution. From the start the republic ran into conflict with the local mujahideens which started what is known as the Afghan civil war. In 1979 the Soviet Union entered the country to help the communist government, they left however in 1989 after staying in the country in nine years.

After the Soviet withdrawal, the Republic of Afghanistan continued to deal with attacks from the Mujahideen. They received funding and arms from the Soviet Union until 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed. For several years the government army had actually increased their effectiveness past levels ever achieved during the Soviet military presence. But the government was dealt a major blow when Abdul Rashid Dostum, a leading general, switched allegiances to the Mujahideen in 1992 and together they captured the city of Kabul.

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Hamid Karzai with George and Laura Bush at Camp David.jpg

President Hamid Karzai's August 2007 visit to the United States, where he was met by George and Laura Bush at Camp David in Maryland.

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